The process begins with a twelve-hour exposure to the burning of elemental sulfur, a substance which naturally occurs in nature and which is used in the processing of fine wines and balsamic vinegars. The sulfur ensures that the tomatoes retain their natural brilliant red color and a sweet intense flavor; and, discourages rodents, insects and birds from the area around the drying yard. Valley Sun Products, Inc. places their tomato drying trays on a fully paved dry yard, completely surrounded by fencing. The tomatoes are further protected from intrusion by foreign material by the use of carefully placed canvas wind breaks. The perimeter of the yard has a metal rodent barrier extending from below ground level to approximately three feet high. Our facility is also serviced weekly by a pest control program.
In addition, Valley Sun Products, Inc. has an on-site laboratory and our product is checked throughout the drying and packing processes for compliance with our high quality standards. Special attention is paid to the texture of the tomato, removing them from the trays when they are sufficiently dry but retain a soft pliable texture. Valley Sun Products, Inc. is inspected by the Dried Fruit Association (DFA). Valley Sun Products, Inc. averages a score of over 1800 out of 2000 possible points.
The difference between sun dried and mechanical dehydration is important. Sun dried tomatoes must be dried over several days by the sun’s natural heat. Dehydrated or tunnel dried tomatoes may be artificially dried at temperatures up to 200° F. in a matter of hours, a process which may burn or scorch the fragile tomato.